Calling for the "cream of the crop," Northern California Independent Booksellers Association board member Paul Takushi, manager of the UC Davis Bookstore, led the rep pick session at last month's trade show in Oakland. Each rep was limited to four books in selected categories.
As "new authors to watch," PGW's Ty Wilson picked Ryan Boudinot for his debut novel, Blueprints of the Afterlife (Grove). Random's Liz Willner doubted she needed to mention Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus to this group of savvy booksellers, but she did share that it took the author 12 years to write her debut. Jenn Ramage--also from Random House--picked Stanford professor Adam Johnson for The Orphan Master's Son, reading a praising blurb from Abraham Verghese. It was no surprise that Perseus's Adam Schnitzer chose the memoir by this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Leymah Gbowee, Mighty Be Our Powers (Beast Books), which in part recalls how this young woman led a sex strike to bring peace to Liberia.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux's Gigi Reinheimer pointed out that while Hector Tobar might not be a new author, his new novel, The Barbarian Nurseries, makes him an author to watch. Norton's Joe Murphy gave Tom Muller the nod for his nonfiction Extravirginity, which is about olive oil fraud. From Hachette's relatively new Mulholland imprint, Tom McIntyre said Thomas Mullen is a literary rising star, as shown by his sci-fi/mystery novel The Revisionists. Penguin's Lindsay Wood picked Jussi Adler-Olsen--who sold "five million copies" in his native Denmark--for the Dutton novel Keeper of Lost Causes. Jim Hankey picked Filipino author Lysley Tenorio and her debut, Monstress, coming from Ecco. "It was like discovering Daniel Alarcon for the first time again," said Hankey. Rounding out the category, Cheri Hickman reminded booksellers about Julia Sheeres, author of the memoir Jesusland, whose new book, A Thousand Lives (Free Press), shines new light on those who died at and survived Jonestown.
Another category was "title you want indies to champion." Wilson picked Moby Dick in Pictures by Matt Kish (Tin House), which weighs in a four-and-a-half pounds. Willner suggested that booksellers might take the publication of Haruki Murakami's new tome, 1Q84, as an opportunity to get new readers started on his backlist. Ramage suggested Bi-Rite's Market Eat Good Food from Ten Speed, which she described not so much a cookbook as a "good citizen book." Schnitzer called Neill Lochery's Lisbon: War in the Shadow of the City of Light (PublicAffairs), which "has all the intrigue that was hinted at in Casablanca," a "labor of love."
And since almost everybody like a good dog book, Reinheimer pegged Dogs Make Us Human: A Global Family Album by Art Wolfe and Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (Bloomsbury). Murphy hoped booksellers would get behind Norton's The Complete Record Cover Collection by R. Crumb--who collected everything from Janis Joplin to classic jazz covers. After thanking booksellers for making The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (Little, Brown) a success, McIntyre hoped booksellers would try hard with The Orchard, a memoir by Theresa Weir from Grand Central. Just My Type by Simon Garfield--which is about typefaces--"doesn't sound very interesting, but it is," said Wood, who reps Gotham. Hankey called Russell Banks "one of the authors I respect the most." His new novel, Lost Memory of Skin, is about paroled sex offenders living under a Miami causeway.
Hickman thanked the booksellers for doing a great job selling Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman (Scribner) and shared her enthusiasm for The Last Testament: A Memoir by God written by David Javerbaum, who was a producer on the Daily Show and wrote much of America and Earth. "It got great buzz at SCIBA and we hope that moves north," said Hickman, who told booksellers to check out the book to find out what sports team He roots for, not to mention what He really thinks of Dan Brown.
At the adult author breakfast, Karl Marlantes talked both profoundly and bluntly about the need for a sacred space on the battlefield in discussing his new book, What It Is Like to Go to War (Grove). Then Adam Mansbach brought much appreciated comic relief by sharing how scary Kathy Lee Gifford really is while talking about his runaway bestseller, Go the F**k to Sleep (Akashic), and forthcoming graphic novel, Nature of the Beast (Soft Skull). (Apparently Gifford has really big teeth, too.) --Bridget Kinsella